Universal acclaim- based on 30 Ratings
Aug 30, 2013This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Another Woody Allen delight, a diptych of two moral conundrums, Laudau, a well-off ophthalmologist who ultimately gets away with the murder of his badgering mistress (Huston), meanwhile a frustrated documentary filmmaker (Allen) flunks to win his love interest (Farrow) over a pretentious showbiz magnate (Alda).
For Laudau’s story, one can easily sniff out the comparability of Allen’s later London-based MATCH POINT (2005, 7/10), the other women are merely dispensable in favor of wealth, social status and ostensibly stable matrimony. In this film, its main concern is the struggle within, the general moral conscience Vs. the guilt or the sin, and out of left field, it is the latter eventually prevails, with the trappings of a comfortable life, the murder becomes a petty snippet in his memory and time can put everything back into an equilibrium, it is beyond any religion’s absolution. Landau delivers one of his best performances in his lengthy career, an outright leading role (again, shamefully the category fraud push him into supporting group in the Oscar race), a hypocrite sleekly justifies his selfish and heinous behaviors with superfluous paddings, a despicable person so full of life with mocking caricature and a tint of self-reflection, everyone has his or her own unsurmountable hurdle in reality, luckily the preponderance is able to rein the yardstick. Anjelica Huston breaks her lofty stereotype, to overplay an unreasonable mistress who is too desperate to shore up her wanting sense of security, as vexing and halfwitted as she is, her denouement is too much a punishment.
As for Allen’s romantic entwinement with Farrow and his doomed marriage, it brims with casual wisecracks and addicted cinema-goings, but the scene-stealer is Alda, whose character is blatantly based on the late writer Larry Gelbart, utters bon mots like, comedy is tragedy plus time; or if it bends, it's funny, if it breaks, it isn’t. He is snobbish and lewd to everyone’s eyes, yet he walks off with Allen’s soul mate. Woody Allen is rehashing the same old self, and Mia Farrow refrains herself as an out-of-his-league dame, who speaks highly about her unrealized ambition in order to reject a man trapped in a dead wedlock, yet subservient to the mogul’s courtship, it all boils down to the point of a woman’s self-deceptive blindness towards material needs, with a collateral damage to her unsuccessful suitor. So in both stories, the female characters are less glamorous and adorable here, not to mention Allen’s sister’s icky sex encounter in the bedroom.
The film is mostly brisk under the accompany of a jazzy score, and its debate on moral structure is a cogent one and could be a reference to all the contemporary marital or relationship mishaps, even the religious mumble-jumble has an epiphany on those non-believers.… Full Review »
May 7, 2012Woody Allen's probing Crimes and Misdemeanors tells two stories that turn on a single question: What do you see when you look in the mirror? One tale is a drama centered on Judah (Martin Landau), a successful ophthalmologist who ends an affair by having his mistress (Anjelica Huston) killed. The other tale is a farce centered on Cliff (Allen), a struggling documentary filmmaker, his brother-in-law Lester (Alan Alda), and Lester's colleague Halley (Mia Farrow). Lester's an acclaimed TV producer. To please his sister (Joanna Gleason), he allows her husband Cliff to film a documentary about him. The stage is set for Judah and Lester to confront unflattering, even damning, portraits of themselves. Judah's self-confrontation is direct. When told the murder plot's a done deal, Judah enters his bathroom, looks at himself, washes his face, and looks at himself again. Can he come to terms with what he's done? Lester's self-confrontation comes via Cliff's documentary, a mocking portrayal wholly at odds with how Lester sees himself. Is this cause for Lester to reflect on the man he is? Guiding us through the two men's journeys are a rabbi (Sam Waterston) and patient of Judah's quickly losing his sight, and a philosopher who's a pet documentary subject of Cliff's. The former appeals to redemption via faith, and the latter to redemption via humanistic reason. Both are hopeful men who see inherent good in human nature. Yet the film's events pointedly ask whether their optimism's well-founded, and ultimately whether the answer even matters. Crimes and Misdemeanors is plainly a morality play - one that might have fallen flat in lesser hands. In Allen's hands, the overlaying morality play is told with a blend of gripping drama and trademark Allen humor, resting on a screenplay so taut and sophisticated that the rest of the film falls into place effortlessly. The result is a brilliant, engrossing film - one of Allen's very best.… Full Review »